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Romo, Cowboys outlast Steelers in OT, still alive for postseason

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers needed a win Sunday and both played as if their season was on the line.

The Cowboys are still walking it.

Brandon Carr's interception of Ben Roethlisberger in overtime was the final blow in 27-24 victory Dallas had to have. The Cowboys (8-6) moved into a tie for first place in the NFC East with the New York Giants and Washington.

"If you find ways to win, it's a great thing," Dallas quarterback Tony Romo said.

Roethlisberger, playing in Cowboys Stadium for the first time since Super Bowl XLV, came up short in an epic duel with Romo. The two quarterbacks combined to throw for 680 yards and four touchdowns, but it was the one turnover by Roethlisberger on the first OT possession that proved the difference.

"They made the splash play necessary to secure victory," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "We didn't."

Carr returned the interception to the 1-yard line. Dan Bailey kicked the game-winner field goal two plays later. The Cowboys have won three in row, twice coming back during that streak.

"Our football team is developing that mental toughness that knows no matter what is going on that we can win that football game," Romo said. "We believe that we can do that."

The Steelers' postseason hopes took a hit with their fourth loss in the last five games, falling to 7-7 in the AFC. Pittsburgh does have Cincinnati and Cleveland at home the next two weeks. Win both are the Steelers are in the playoffs.

"It's all about getting into the tournament," Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace said. "Win and we're in, simple as that."

Romo and the Cowboys continued their resurgent play, winning for the fifth time in six games. Dallas finishes up its home schedule next week against New Orleans before finishing the regular season on the road at Washington.

"We need to take care of our business, and do what we do," Romo said.

Romo finished 30-42 for 341 yards and two touchdowns. He also went over 25,000 career passing yards. DeMarco Murray rushed for 81 yards for Dallas and one touchdown.

Roethlisberger was 24-40 for 339 yards, two scores and one pick. He also shouldered the blame for the loss.

"Yes, absolutely," Roethlisberger said. "One hundred percent. It's on me. I let the team, the fans, everybody down."

Wallace and Heath Miller both had more than 90 yards receiving for Pittsburgh.

The Cowboys got another strong effort out of Dez Bryant, though Sunday's effort might have been his most impressive of the season. The third-year receiver played with a fractured finger that could have ended his season.

Bryant decided to delay surgery and played in a specially-made splint that offered protection but no guarantee that his finger couldn't be permanently damaged. Bryant caught four passes, including a 24-yard touchdown in the third quarter that briefly gave Dallas a 17-10 lead.

Bryant said he wasn't out there to motivate his teammates. He just wanted to play and help get the Cowboys back into the playoffs.

"It all started in the offseason, finish, finish, finish," Bryant said. "We heard that so much in the offseason. It stuck with us. We got it in our mind that we need to finish games better and that's what we've been doing."

The Steelers played mostly from behind, overcoming a double-digit lead in the first half and a seven-point deficit in the third quarter. Pittsburgh went on top 24-17 early in the fourth after two unanswered touchdowns.

Roethlisberger's 60-yard bomb to Wallace set up the tying score. The Steelers forged ahead on Antonio Brown's 7-yard scoring catch with 12:43 left in the game.

The teams went into the locker room tied 10-10 despite Dallas dominating for much of the first half. Roethlisberger led a late push in the second quarter, culminating with a highlight-reel touchdown pass in the final minute to knot the score.

The Cowboys nearly caused a turnover twice on Pittsburgh's first possession before forcing a Steelers punt. Romo was sharp in directing a 56-yard drive that resulted in a 50-yard Bailey field goal.

The Cowboys thought they had a first down inside the Steelers' 25, but replays overturned a Romo-to-Miles Austin completion. Three plays were reviewed in the first quarter, with Pittsburgh winning two.

The Steelers avoided falling into possibly 10-0 deficit late in the first quarter by forcing a Dallas turnover. Cowboys running back Murray was holding the ball away from his body while fighting for yardage inside the Pittsburgh 10.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison knocked the ball loose and defensive end Brett Keisel recovered on the 8. It was the first lost fumble of Murray's two-year career.

The Cowboys made up for that missed opportunity after another Pittsburgh punt. A 58-yard march ended with two long Romo completions, including a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten for a 10-0 lead.

Roethlisberger worked his magic from there.

The Steelers first got on the board with Shaun Suisham's 32-yard field goal with 6:07 left in the second quarter. The next Pittsburgh possession covered 73 yards in just seven plays, with Big Ben improvising for last 30.

In the shotgun on second down with 47 seconds left in the half, Roethlisberger initially couldn't find anyone open. With the pocket collapsing, he spun, slid and pump-faked out of pressure to find a wide-open Miller on the sideline. The tight end scored easily.

NOTES: The Cowboys held a moment of silence for before the game for the victims of the Newtown, Conn., tragedy and for practice team LB Jerry Brown, who was killed earlier this month in a car accident involving teammate Josh Brent. Brent, charged with intoxication manslaughter, was on sidelines with Brown's jersey over his shoulder. ... Dallas rookie CB Morris Claiborne (concussion) was ruled out before the game. The other inactives for Dallas were RB Phillip Tanner, G/C Kevin Kowalski, G/C David Arkin, OT Darrion Weems and NT Jay Ratliff. ... Steelers inactives were QB Byron Leftwich, CB Ike Taylor, CB Cortez Allen, DE Al Woods, G/T Willie Colon, OT Mike Adams, WR Plaxico Burress.
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